Archive for October, 2009

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Todt Becomes FIA President

October 23, 2009

I’m actually really distressed right now…

People who are neither fit enough for it nor deserve it, are obtaining positions of power and yet others still are going out of their way to turn people who were once friends against each other!!

Wow.

Amazing…what a first.

“Climb Dance” immortal, Ari Vatanen, lost the FIA presidential to Jean Todt by a landslide – 49 votes to a massive 135.

Ari, God bless him, not only lost the election – he was decimated by it.

This is tragic news for anyone who cares enough about the sport any more. Oh wait… did I just say sport?

I have never liked Jean Todt enough to envision trusting him with the keys to the future well being of Formula One and least of all when a sado-machochistic sex fiend FIA president is in full and open support of him. The fact that Max “Ze Punishment” Mosley even went as far as to formally tell Prince Feisal of the country Jordan, ROYALTY I might add, that his support for Vatanen was misguided and that Ari would “lose the election and lose badly…” indicates a sinister and underhanded overtone to the elections proceedings.

Nothing is straight in Formula One anymore.

Jean Todt was the man at Peugeot who decided the winner of one of the 1989 WRC rallies on the banks of the Niger river with the flip of a single, lousy 10 franc coin.

Jean Todt is also the man who at Ferrari decided the winner of the 2002 Austrian Formula One GP with the toss of a single, lousy 10 franc coin…maybe. Rubens Barrichello had this to say about the new President elect…“For me it was pretty clear. Take my foot off the pedal or get fired. When I asked Michael if he knew what was going on he said he had nothing to do with it but I have documents at home to prove that he was very well aware of everything that took place.”

Yep…Jean Todt is without a doubt the right man to take over the mantles of the future of F1…

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2009 Tokyo Motorshow Girls

October 23, 2009

One for the boys – not everything at the 2009 TMS was metallic or heavy although a bit of silicone may have been involved somewhere!

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2010 Lexus LFA

October 23, 2009

World Premiere for the Lexus LFA at the 2009 TMS ( 7-Tune marked photos shot by Peter Horniak )

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The new Lexus LFA is all about numbers, some of them truly mind numbing, depending on your angle and inclination.

Weighing in at a scant 1480kg and flaunting a brand new DOHC 4.8 liter V10 developing 412kw @ 8,700rpm and made from exotic and expensive materials such as magnesium and titanium; the all new $375,000 dollar hyper Lexus is very firmly being pitched at the pinch hitters in the Lamborghini, Audi Ferrari and Porsche camps.

The LFA makes a maximum 480nm of twist available at a heady 6,800rpm, propelling it from 0-100kph in a factory claimed 3.7 seconds. Inside the 1LR-GUE donk, titanium valves and ultra light rocker arms can be found along with a fully integrated crank casing that not only reduces power loss at high rpm but also will allow the engine to spin to extreme amounts of revs.

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Without pausing for breath, the Lexus will go all the way to a wailing 9000rpm redline, driving through all 6 of its Automated Sequential Gearbox cogs ( ASG ) and onto a top speed of 325kph, ( 201 mph ) making 90% of its peak torque between 3,700rpm and 9,000rpm along the way.

Employing 4 selectable shift patterns, the seven-staged ASG box shifts between cogs at 0.2 seconds in turn providing a more solid shift feel to the driver by way of strengthened actuators and heavy duty synchronizer rings.

Phonically, the sound of the naturally aspirated 1LR-GUE at full noise really made the hairs on the body stand at attention and no Toyota has ever sounded as remarkable as this, save the actual program that donated some of its DNA to the LFA, Toyota’s own F1 program.

Stopping the car is being well taken care of by CCM ( Carbon Ceramic Material ) discs front and rear along with 20 inch wheels wrapped in 265/35 and 305/30 Bridgestone rubber.

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It is in the chassis department where some of the most remarkable progress has been made. Toyota, through their Lexus brand, have used their vast resources and engineering prowess in Formula 1 to design and create a CFRP composite cabin, mixing together a concoction of carbon fiber and reinforced plastic; saving more than 100kg in the process when compared to more conventional aluminum chassis construction techniques. Pioneering this technology has enabled Lexus to create unique CRFP to metal fabrication processes akin to the way tendon and muscle joins bone to form a working, flexible and strong connection that has almost perfect weight distribution percentages front to rear of 48:52.

It was with baited breath that the worlds press awaited its unveiling and as the covers were taken off, everyone there was suddenly confronted with something unexpected. Finally, after countless years of fruitless wandering, we were all looking at a hardcore, balls out super car from a manufacturer responsible for some truly legendary vehicles.

At long last, Toyota are back.

There is no denying Toyota lost their way. No one will dispute this, not even a member of the founding family, Akio Toyoda. He even went as far as to offer an apology for the lost dreams of the automotive youth, pledging to make a change. The FT86 and LFA are fruits of this change. Young people have fallen out of love with the car, realizing that cars lack a certain something that brings out in them some emotion. Owning a car is all about emotion and Toyota has been of the misguided perception that people would rather own listless and vapid appliances. Fans of Toyota have been yearning for a cheap 2 seater rear wheel drive coupe that will make the blood boil and finally, something this way cometh.

The LFA, being leagues more exclusive than its baby brother the FT86, is only going to be produced in a strictly limited run of 500 units – not a single more or less. Pre orders are being taken as of now but the official final 500 owners will be hand picked from the list of pre orders so you can imagine you will not only need an excessively large pile of money to part with but a damn good reason for Toyota to take it as well!

The LFA was amazing to behold and I got to have a really good look at it inside and out. There is a hint of Supra about it in the silhouette, a whiff of Lamborghini in the front bumper, a tinge of Veyron in the extendable rear wing but there is no denying this was a clean sheet design. The interior is functional and formal and struck me as very similar, utilitarian wise, when compared to the Nissan GTR. Color choices in the cabin were even reminiscent of the R35. There was no word on what exterior choices were being made available but lets hope Toyota sticks with its design philosophy in offering a wide splashing of hues to choose from.

The jury is out at the moment on whether or not Toyota has the right to charge such an exorbitant amount of cash for such a product but word is that Toyota will be making a loss on every single LFA it sells. With a price tag double that of one of its natural enemies, the 5.2 liter V10 Audi R8, you have to wonder what this is an exercise in for Toyota but there is no denying the LFA’s presence, wow factor and a list of numbers that go some of the way in supporting the outrageous price tag. I like Lexus, always have but don’t love it that much to shell out money approaching half a million dollars to own one.

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2009 Tokyo Motor Show

October 23, 2009

“Racing Otaku visited the opening Wednesday press day for the 2009 TMS and was very disappointed to learn that virtually none of the European manufacturers had decided to come to the party. All the big Japanese names were there with some exciting products including the new LFA Lexus and FT86 Toyota but the hole that is Europe was glaring and impossible to patch.”


I’m not going to lie to you. The 2009 Tokyo Motor Show was a pretty big letdown punctuated by pockets of expectation and amazement.

Without doubt everyone was expectantly anticipating the arrival of cars like the Lexus LFA and the Toyota FT86 but there was no denying the fact that the Makuhari Messe was empty, especially by TMS standards. The Makuhari Messe is a massive venue and became even more cavernous with the absence of almost every European and American automotive manufacturer.

Not wanting to sound too critical, this was the smallest TMS I’ve been to by a long way and with the current economic climate in the state its in, this is cause for concern on a number of levels. I have it on good stead through a contact high up the ladder that the European arm of the automotive world gave the Japanese event the thumbs down due to the economic crisis. Make of that what you will but keep in mind all those absent from the TMS were present at the Shanghai Motor Show. If there was a single action that would bring about the most consternation within the TMS, this was it. My contact tells me that Chinas market for one particular manufacturer is a massive 10 times that of Japan and this went some of the way towards the decision not to attend. Amazingly, it was conveyed to me that when one of the manufacturers baulked at staging a display at this years TMS, the rest followed suit, en masse. Quite extraordinary and with costs for staging an event like this reaching astronomical figures, quite understandable.

Despite these setbacks, the TMS proved to be a success in other ways, underscored by the continued and more urgent push toward alternative fuels, bringing with it scores of rabid journalists hanging on the every word of Japans automotive top brass.

One thing that was immediately noticeable was the army of Chinese and Korean visitors to this years event, scores flocking to the stands of each major manufacturer to pick, pry and poke at each design no doubt taking in vital aesthetic and engineering based intel to transfer to their own product lines back home. Japan is going to have to really get a move on if it wants to stay in the race. Another thing that is equally apparent is that China is still playing catch up in this game and needs as much information as it can get. How the Japanese giants will respond to this is unknown but what is clear is that they are market leaders in this field with the technology and resources to back up the products. Japan, remember, is at the forefront on the development of alternative fuels and has been for many years. Making this technology cost effective is proving to be the major stumbling block. For example, it is reported that replacement battery prices for the Toyota “Plug in” Hybrid concept showcased this year at the TMS top out at a jaw dropping 650,000 yen. With a base cost of more than 3 million yen for the vehicle, neither these batteries nor the vehicle itself make sense financially.

It gets more interesting. The milliamps needed to feed the juice to the battery packs are reported to be capable of blacking out an entire street if a mere 5 of these cars were plugged in at the same time, not withstanding charge times up to an entire day. This is why recharging stations are being planned for as normal electricity grids won’t be able to cope.

All the major Japanese makers were there, with each of them sporting a heavily accentuated hybrid / alternative energy theme. I like the idea of hybrid technology and am not against it but until costs can be brought down, the technology will remain somewhat impractical on a global scale. Remember that with some forms of alternative fuels such as bio fuel, it takes energy to make energy, which in turn means that conventional resources such as oil and gas are still crucial in making the shift happen.

On a more hopeful note, Toyota appears to have restarted the small sports car war with what was arguably the star of the show; a fire red FT86. Nissan really should remove the designs for the Silvia from the bin and restart the project because Japan has been sorely missing a fight between small, 2 door RWD sport cars for years now. The fans have waited long enough and Nissans decision to scrap the project was ill advised.

It wasn’t all chrome, steel, aluminium and the combination of elements though. There were plenty of obliging ladies to ogle at, with designs arguably more appealing to the masses of men there than the cars themselves. The Rizla Suzuki stand, Nissan, Toyota and Mazda booths sporting some fine models. I certainly appreciated the way my 10-24mm super wide angle lens made them look leggier! Without these girls to soothe the waves of testosterone prevalent in events like this, who knows how long it would have been before a riot broke out.

There was plenty of fun to be had as well, with Sony bringing along a GT5 stand complete with at least 10 machines to try out – each one locked onto a different car. The FT86 was one of these cars and was a real hoot to take around the track. I tried out the Scuderia 438 on full manual controls and more aggressive competitors and was shocked when I got tagged and spun around by a pissed off AI. I think the level of involvement in this game has gone up another notch but sadly there is still no damage model so we wont be seeing broken bits and pieces of our favorite cars flying around.

While there were noticeable absences this year, I still made the most of the occasion, securing some quality time with the cars there and taking home with me a wide list of future contacts who have agreed to throw me the keys to some of their cars for performance testing so you can be sure of follow ups in the near future.

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Kubica in F Major

October 7, 2009

F for Fail.

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R//O loves Robert Kubica – not for his, umm… questionable looks but for his car control and sheer speed. Robert has shown all of us uglier types that it is okay to look this way and still drive a fast car and for that, we roundly applaud him.

But, putting looks aside ( Not that there is a lot there to put away ), Robert Kubica has decided to do something totally daft.

Instead of taking the logical, career minded approach in leading a team funded by the biggest motoring manufacturer in the world, a manufacturer with billions of dollars in backing, Robert Kubica has made the major mistake of joining…them.

No, not Toyota…

You know that really hated band? “The New Cheats on the Block”? I think Piquet was singing like a canary, Alonso blowing ( sucking? ) on the flute, Briatore banging away on his own thinly stretched drum skins, and Symonds snorting, sorry, playing the heavy bass?

Yeah, I also heard their first single crashed horribly.

I knew Kubica was going to do this but am totally against it. Most of my reasoning stems from the fact that Renault are a mob of duplicitous cheating mongrels and got caught red handed. Sure they argue team personnel can’t be implicated in the mess because the “…sins of a few don’t cost the many”, but that’s like me saying, “Hey, if you don’t find my whole body, my penis cant be implicated in the penetration of that totally hot prostitute!”

It’s absurdity at its most baffling.

Robert may very well rue passing up the chance to go to Toyota simply for the fact that he could have been well away from the inner turmoil engulfing the Renault team.

As it is, he is now embracing it.

And did I tell you, had he made the right choice, he could be eating uber expensive sushi off very naked, very voluptuous and very expensive women in a very secret location – all on the bosses platinum card?

Obviously these guys are only paid to drive and not to think…

Kubica to Renault in 2010?

Fail.

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Racing Otaku and 7tune Join Forces

October 5, 2009

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I’m pleased to announce that I will be working with the much respected and well known people behind the automotive website, 7tune.

I will be contributing to the site from Japan and will be covering a variety of car related events so be sure to head over and check them out.

My first article for them is already up and ready for you reading pleasure so have a look.

Here is a sample:

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Most of us are familiar with the very popular Hot Version DVD’s released by Best Motoring, here in Japan. Keiichi Tsuchiya always features prominently, as do his on track cohorts, Manabu Orido and Nob Taniguchi. There’s also even a little eye candy amongst all the aluminum, carbon fiber and testosterone. The Hot Version DVD series is now more than 100 volumes old and has always showcased battles between the best of the best in performance engineering here in Japan. To the victor, the spoils truly do go and there is a lot of honor and dignity on the line for all those chosen to participate from the countless many who apply.

Considering this is an airtight, invite only event, you can imagine my surprise when I received an unexpected call from a personal friend of mine, who for the sake of anonymity, would like me to refer to him simply as “Y”. Y has a very interesting hobby in that he develops bespoke performance parts for his very own gloss black 2008 Nissan R35 GT-R. Going back a few months, Y showed me the blueprints for a special set of performance dampers that were one off creations being crafted especially for him by a workshop in Nagoya. Fast forward a few months and Y has been selected to compete in the battle and asks me to attend the shoot on his behalf.  Before it even has time to register, he hits me with the zinger, “…and I’ll need you to drive the car back from Sendai to Tokyo.” The thought of not only being invited to attend the shooting for one of the most exclusive automotive battles in Japan but also have the chance to spend a few hundred intimate kilometers with one of my favorite cars on the way back was too much to resist…


http://www.7tune.com/hot-version-battle-sendai-highland-part-1/

R//O

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F1 Needs to Harden the Fuck Up.

October 4, 2009

Vettel may have had the easiest day out there with a convincing pole to win today in Suzuka but spare a thought for those behind him, especially the man who finished 2 laps down.

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Although nothing can be taken away from the German who displayed composure and raw speed throughout the weekend, Webber must be feeling like God himself is well and truly against him, for despite having a car that was a gigantic half a second faster than everybody else over any single lap, Webber was struck with problem after problem after problem.

It wasn’t enough that a harmless nudge against the wall resulting in a hairline crack in the monocoque of the RBR on Saturday morning free practice completely sidelined him for the entire official qualifying, he also then had to endure the sight of Alguesuari spinning backwards over the kitty litter and into the barriers before the bridge carrying considerably more speed and then incredulously, getting out of the trap with no more than a broken rear wing. To make matters even worse, Alguesuari qualified P4 in Q3 despite all of this, eventually going on to make it into Q2.

You would think that was torture enough, but before Webber could even think that Sunday would be a better day, Vettel then went on to take a commanding P1 in Q3 first time out at the track.

Webber must surely be an expert masochist to end all masochists. He, “Loves to receive ze punishment!”

I suppose at least he didn’t get food poisoning this Saturday, like he did in Fuji a couple of years ago. Remember this?

People berate Webber for all sorts of pathetic reasons, conveniently failing to acknowledge the fact that he is a tougher than titanium racer, a man who will keep going despite being in excruciating pain or suffering from a lingering illness, right to the flag. Timo Glock would do well to take a teaspoon or two of good old Choppers, “Harden The Fuck Up” from Webber and get back in the car with his pussy scratch that he received after his visit to the wall. Timo was hobbling around getting pity from everyone, brandishing a bandaged leg that looked like he had suffered shrapnel wounds from a landmine. I thought he had a 40 degree fever never mind the bandage that should have been PINK, not blue.

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Piss Weak Pussy Sauce.

Does anyone truly believe Webber would have given up on Sunday with this injury? Not on your life. It is more feasible that he would have told the medical team to “Fuck Off” and leave him with the injury because all Aussies know that a band-aid or two will fix anything. Even death.

Lets have a look back shall we?

He’s dealt with sickness, puking through his balaklava in his helmet during a race, been given 2nd degree burns in his ass due to a faulty wire in the car that super heated the seat. I was reminded by a friend of mine, Russ, that Jaguar, upon Webber coming in for a pitstop, threw a bucket of water over him and the seat to “…cool the temperatures.” Webber went right out again.

There is no one in F1 with bigger balls than Mark Webber. Fact.

He’s pulled multiple backflips at 330kph in a Mercedes CLR-GT1 LeMans car that would make Chinese Olympic diving athletes green with envy – not once but twice.

He’s also been hit head on by a car and had a metal pin installed to hold his leg together and how could anyone forget the butt-secks the “Fucking Kid” tried to have with him in Fuji in 2007, immortalized by Mark’s words, “Well, it’s just kids, isn’t it? Doing a good job and then they fuck it all up…”

I’m not done. Mark is so tough, he drove the start of the 2005 season with broken ribs. Walk in the park, is it?

Yes,  it’s just as conceivable as Hussein Bolt running the 100m sprint with a busted leg. And get a new WR in the process.

Who’s tougher than Mark? The only guy I can think of is Christ Jesus Himself and Mark is going to have to come back from the dead if he wants to take that trophy.

Too right, Mark. You’ve been robbed so many times and we are all filthy for you.

Interestingly, Japan has never been kind to Mark Webber. It was probably a black Japanese cat he killed.

Was there a race today? Oh yes, there was wasn’t there?  Silly of me to forget. So Sunday comes around and little Vettel has his day in the sun. Good for him and good for Red Bull, no doubt. Good for the championship even but with only one single engine left and 2 races to go, all it would take is for one little valve to say, “G’day Cobber” to Mr. Piston and it is Alfeiderzein for the German hot shoe and his, “Youngest WDC ever” title aspirations.

In the race, everyone gets away cleanly with Webber getting a decent start but disappointingly, is in the pits within 3 laps. Blown gearbox or engine?! Mangled suspension?! A date with a Romanian supermodel?!

No…with a busted safety cowling. Of course…there is no way it would have been serious.

Change of tires and out again, only to return into the pits a lap later with the same problem. Of all the things that could go wrong, a busted drivers cowling. Band-aids deployed, Webber sets off after the field, 3 laps down. The band-aids are holding obviously.

Predictably, he’s back in again soon enough for his third stop of the afternoon. This time it is a puncture. Nobody else the entire race suffers a puncture.

Punctured wheel changed and re-fuelled for a long 4th stint, it’s off again. Webber makes two more stops bringing the total to 5 for the day in what must surely be the most frustrating race I have ever had the displeasure of watching him compete in. In a race where nothing went wrong for anybody else besides Algesuari who managed to lose the Torro Rosso at 315kph into 130R ( that corner should be renamed “130 – Directly to E – R” ) Webber unchallengingly personifies, “Bad Luck”.

Somewhere, he must have smashed a mirror while running over a black cat without realizing he was going under a ladder on his bike right before being cleaned up by a car which leaves his leg mangled and broken. Seriously, it’s beyond a joke now.

Martin Brundle hilariously quipped today that, “..if Mark Webber wasn’t having any bad luck, he wouldn’t be having any luck at all!”

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I had the pleasure of meeting Mark at Suzuka in 2006 on both the Friday and Saturday. These were happier, burn and chunder free days for the Aussie and he was refreshingly open for a chat. Knowing I didn’t have the proper “credentials” to be in the paddock, he asked me, “… so how’d you get in here Adam, anyways?”

He then gives me a nudge and then says , “..dodgy deeds?!”

I had always thought the guy was awesome ( I had first met him in 1995 when he was driving a Formula Ford )  but this discussion we had in Suzuka took my respect for him to a completely different level. He wasn’t just approachable. He was normal and supremely friendly and everything I had hoped things would be like within the paddock.

He was exactly like me.

I should say most of the drivers were like this but Webber is a successful Aussie so that makes it personally special.

The fact that he smashed all of the other drivers lap times in the 2009 Japanese GP by taking the Fastest Lap classification was a big “Middle Fingered Salute” to all who speak ill of him. Very much like the massively underrated and overlooked, Nick Heidfeld, Mark Webber is and has always been one of the very best in the sport and credit should be given where it is deserved.

I just hope he’s not eating sushi tonight…